by Margaret Rogerson
Of all the characters in Sorcery of Thorns, Silas was the most complex and fascinating to write. He’s also the character I get asked the most questions about, so I thought it would be fun to give you some behind the scenes information about what went into developing his character.
My first inspiration for Silas came from my debut novel, An Enchantment of Ravens. In it, there’s a side character named Gadfly who I enjoyed writing so much that I wanted to include a similar character as part of my next book’s main cast. I love characters who keep you guessing up to the very end—who make you like them even though there’s a part of you that feels as though you shouldn’t, and are difficult to define as purely good or bad.
First of all, I knew he needed to be a non-human character. I decided to make him a demon because doing so helped me define the setting’s magic system, which I based on real-life mythology surrounding conjuring and demonology (google “The Lesser Key of Solomon” if you want to go down a bizarre internet rabbit hole). From there, some of his basic inspiration came from classic sources like Calcifer from Howl’s Moving Castle and The Bartimaeus Trilogy by Jonathan Stroud—both all-time favorites of mine. And yes, his ability to turn into a white cat is a reference to Mogget from Sabriel!
In a lot of ways, Silas forms the backbone of the novel. A big theme of the book is Elisabeth’s journey toward deciding for herself what is right and what is wrong, even when her feelings contradict what she’s always been told. You see this play out with magic, Nathaniel, the grimoires, and finally with Silas. The role he plays in the ending has been the one constant through several iterations of the manuscript in which I dramatically overhauled the plot and even switched the villain’s identity several times. No matter what else changed, from the first version to the last, the choice Elisabeth makes and what Silas does in response is the same.
Lastly, it was important to me that Sorcery of Thorns included a powerful example of world-changing redemption and salvation that came from love, but not romantic love. As someone who identifies as aromantic and asexual, I don’t often see the non-romantic devotion that defines my own relationships reflected in the fantasy I read. For that reason, Silas was a deeply personal character for me to write as well.